9/26/2013 12:56 A.M. ET
Peralta reflects on strong finish to first season
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta expressed no qualms about the team's decision to bump him from his final start because of a blister.
"It feels great. I'm happy with the way that I finished up," Peralta said on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Turner Field. "I think it's not the way you start the season, it's the way you finished, and I made big progress since the season started."
Peralta went 11-15 with a 4.37 ERA in his first full season in the Major Leagues, but finished much better than he started.
He pitched to a 6.35 ERA in April and May, with a .311 opponents' average in those first 11 starts. But he found a rhythm, beginning with a seven-inning outing against the Braves at Miller Park on June 21, going 7-7 with a 3.05 ERA and a .229 opponents' average over his final 17 starts of the season, including a pair of complete games.
Peralta's three-hit shutout of the Reds on July 9 was the Brewers' first complete game in two and a half years.
The key to the turnaround, said everyone from manager Ron Roenicke to Peralta's personal catcher, Martin Maldonado, was teaching Peralta to control his emotions.
"I've always been an emotional guy. Early, I was struggling, and I'm [still] an emotional guy, but I was able to control that," Peralta said. "Since I got my pitches, all my stuff working, I got more confident in myself. I still get mad on the mound, but I settled down and just forgot about it and made pitches when I had to."
Maldonado helped at times by firing purposeful return throws to the mound.
"Yeah, he threw bullets at me," Peralta said. "I know when he threw those pitches hard, he was mad at me because he wanted me to focus on the thing that I needed to do. That's been one of the things that's been helping me a lot, too, because it's the same thing he did in the Minor Leagues. I knew when he threw the ball hard he wanted me waking up."
Peralta also started slow at Triple-A Nashville in 2012 and is intent on a more positive start to next season. But he is not planning any dramatic changes to his preparation, and Roenicke believes no big changes are necessary.
"I'm hoping the mental side of Wily's development is to the point where he can figure things out a little bit quicker and not get off to that slow start," Roenicke said. "I don't think it's 'stuff.' He had good stuff in Spring Training. He had good stuff early in the season. But what took it so long to get to the point where we felt like when he goes out there now that we're going to win the ballgame? Before, it was kind of like, 'Well, what's Wily going to give us today?'
"So, hopefully, the mental side of that will figure some of that out. Mentally, somehow, we need to work with him and make sure that he's ready for Opening Day. Maybe it's more conversations in Spring Training to make sure that he's getting to that point where we need to start off well and hopefully continue what he's doing right now."
Peralta, who will still be shy of his 25th birthday when the Brewers open the 2014 season, plans to relax at the beach at home in the Dominican Republic in October, before ramping up workouts beginning in November. Peralta is one of three pitchers, along with Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo, assured of a spot in next year's starting rotation, barring offseason transactions.
"Like I said, I'm happy with the way that I finished," Peralta said, "And I think these last two months are making me more confident for next year."
Aramis' season likely over due to knee
ATLANTA -- Wednesday's first-inning scrum with the Braves cost the Brewers more than center fielder Carlos Gomez, who was ejected. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez re-injured his balky left knee while the teams tussled near home plate, and he could miss the Brewers' remaining four games against the Mets.
"I don't know how it happened, but it happened when we were pushing each other," Ramirez said. "Somebody got my knee pretty good. I twisted my knee pretty good."
Could this be an unceremonious end to his season?
"I don't know," Ramirez said. "At this point, with four games left, it doesn't look good."
Before the game, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said some of his banged-up regulars may not be pushed quite as hard in the team's season-ending series, including Ramirez, who originally sprained his knee in Spring Training and has managed varying levels of discomfort ever since.
The indication before Wednesday's setback, Roenicke said, was that Ramirez preferred to play.
"He's a little bit better now, and I think that's why we're seeing better swings," Roenicke said before the game. "But I know it's important to him, and I've already had a conversation with him on the offseason and coming in to camp. He's got the same attitude as he did [at the start of] this year. He came to camp in great shape this year, and he was ready to go, and he's wanting to do the same next year."
Ramirez has said he will focus on strengthening his lower body.
"He's never had that, really, in his workout program in the offseason," Roenicke said. "I think he understands with the injuries and the older you get that you have to have some strength in your legs. That's why he can't drive the ball the other way the way he normally does; he just doesn't have strength in his legs to push off and drive a ball that way."
Segura hoping to test hamstring against Mets
ATLANTA -- Wet afternoon weather on Wednesday prevented Brewers shortstop Jean Segura from testing his left hamstring in running drills, but he said it would be "important" to play a game or two during the team's final series against the Mets.
"It's always important -- to you, to the team and to the fans. They put you out there," Segura said. "That's what I'm here for. I'm not here to sit around and watch the other guys play. I come here to play every day and not sit on the bench."
Segura entered play on Wednesday leading the National League with 44 stolen bases, but his absence was giving the Mets' Eric Young Jr. (42) a chance to catch up. Teammate Carlos Gomez and Pirates outfielder Starling Marte were next on the list with 37.
Segura is trying to become the first Brewer to lead the NL in steals since Scott Podsednik in 2004.
"I just worry about the team," Segura said. "If we win, that's OK for me. If we win and [Young] gets the title, good. If not, that's good too. I don't really pay attention to that."